Norwin special teams standouts Castle, Smith heading to national showcase

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Monday, March 22, 2021 | 6:07 PM


What is a punter without his long-snapper? Or a kicker without his holder?

Norwin has a talented pair of special teamers, and they are headed to a national showcase as a package deal.

Sophomores Joey Castle and Xander Smith are headed to the National Kicking Rankings Top 20 Invitational on May 29-30 in New Orleans.

The specialists were invited to a regional NKR camp in West Virginia, where they were evaluated and earned the invite after strong performances.

Castle is a kicker and punter. Smith is the Knights’ long-snapper.

Castle has been kicking for the Knights since he was a freshman. Last season, he was 11 of 15 on extra points and made a 27-yard field goal.

Smith began long-snapping behind senior Tanner Krevokuch, a Fairmont State commit.

“We prepared a lot together trying to touch up anything we needed to work on so we can show what we can do,” Castle said. “At the end of the camp, we had both won competition awards. Then (on March 9) we both got the invitation to the Top 20. I’m am very honored and blessed to get a chance to compete with the highest-level guys out there.”

Smith, also a wide receiver and defensive back, is the No. 3-ranked long snapper in the Class of 2023 by NKR, based on camp performances.

Castle is ranked No. 4 among punters and is 11th in kicking.

Both have a rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5).

“Joey and I have been working really hard to improve our performances for the upcoming season,” Smith said. “Part of that improvement includes attending camps where we work with coaches that specialize in our skill set.

“It really is such an honor to be chosen and represent our school and our team on such a high level. I am so grateful for the opportunity. It’s also pretty cool to get to do this with one of my best friends. Makes it easy to keep working to get better.”

Smith said he hopes he and Castle can take one day their talents to the college level, but that possibility will have to be earned.

“Only if we continue to work hard,” he said. ” I know we both have dreams of playing at the next level.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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